Vatican’s Deepavali message: Interreligious collaboration essential for peacebuilding

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Vatican’s Deepavali message: Interreligious collaboration essential for peacebuildingThe Dicastery for Interreligious Dialogue sends well-wishes to those celebrating the feast of Deepavali, and invites Christians and Hindus to "join hands" for peace.

The Vatican’s Dicastery for Interreligious Dialogue has released a message ahead of the Hindu feast of Deepavali (or Diwali), which this year will be celebrated on Sunday 12th November.

The letter extends “festive greetings” to all Hindus, and urges Christians and Hindus to work together to build peace.

The feast

The feast of Deepavali, which in Sanskrit means “row of oil lamps”, celebrates the victory of truth over falsehood, light over darkness, and good over evil. It is one of the most important Hindu feast days, and is celebrated with lamps, fireworks, prayers and large family meals.

The Vatican’s message, signed by Cardinal Miguel Ángel Ayuso Guixot and Msgr. Indunil Janakaratne Kodithuwakku Kankanamalage, respectively Prefect and Secretary of the Dicastery for Interreligious Dialogue, sends “festive greetings and best wishes” to all Hindus.

“May God, supreme Light”, it reads, “illumine your hearts and minds, bless your homes and neighbourhoods, and fill your lives with peace and happiness!”

A prophecy of peace

The letter then turns to consider the theme of peacebuilding, noting that this year is the 60th anniversary of Pacem in Terris (Peace on Earth), Pope John XXIII’s “timely, impassioned and much-needed plea to world leaders and people to work together for peace.”

Pacem in Terris, the Vatican’s Deepavali message notes, was written in “deeply troubled” times, when the world seemed to be on the brink of nuclear war.

Sadly, the message continues, these times do not feel so distant from our own: even today, we see many instances of “contempt for human dignity”, “denial of fundamental rights and freedoms”, and “violence and aggression directed towards those who are ethnically, … linguistically and religiously diverse.”

“The full realization of [John XXIII’s] prophecy of peace”, thus, “remains a distant dream.”

Together for peace

How can we move toward making this dream a reality? The Vatican’s letter highlights the “great potential” that interreligious dialogue possesses for peacebuilding.

It quotes Pope Francis’ suggestion that collaboration between religions “has indeed become a necessary condition” for world peace.

“As believers”, the letter urges, given our “common convictions and a sense of shared responsibility for the welfare of humanity, may we, Christians and Hindus, sincerely endeavour to become artisans of peace.”

“Joining hands with followers of other religious traditions,” the letter concludes, “may we work together to build our world on the lasting foundations of truth, justice, love and freedom, so that everyone can enjoy genuine and lasting peace!

And, it adds, “Happy Deepavali”.

Joseph Tulloch